At the time of writing this there is still no advertised dates as to the arrival of the Fujifilm HS50.
I have been watching the user reports at Dpreview for a few weeks now and to date it seems the HS50 is again going to be a beast that will need taming.
Kim letkeman has done an in-depth review of the HS50. Use the “Nothing Special” link under the Blogs I Follow heading and navigate through the review from his menu list . His finding is that given time the HS50 may well be a very handy shooter. The new lens seems very good and noise is handled well up to ISO 1600. The sensor appears to be optimised for L sized images, which is fine for good light conditions but still needs to be shot in M size when the light levels drop.
The Phase Detect AF is very fast but reverts to contrast detect in low light which isn’t good, as I would like to have seen P.D. AF being used throughout as done in DSLR’s.
This puts us back into the realms of the HS20/30, which struggle in very low light conditions. I had occasion to go to the “Ballooons over the Waikato” to shoot the night glow festival and fireworks display.
I shot 325 images, and binned immediately 175, with a further 50 finding their way to the trash as well. Of the rest I will sort and process the better ones. One of the most important parts of this shoot was the balloons being lit up and set to a music score. The results were woeful. In fact I got one single image that is just possibly useful. The HS20 no matter what settings I used repeatedly failed to find or maintain focus, even with the ISO set at 1600 and +2.0 Ev the camera simply couldn’t focus.
The worry here is that no matter how good the HS50 may be in good to average light, in the dark , as I was last night I seriously doubt that the HS50 would do much better, although it should do somewhat better according to Fuji’s claims. The limitation is the small sensor in the HS series cameras and while the new sensor used in the HS50 is a redesign, you can’t beat physics. An APS sizes sensor is simply going to stomp a 1/2 inch sensor. I was shooting along side a woman with a Canon 550D and a 55-250 lens and time after time the Canon nailed the shot whereas the HS20 wouldn’t even focus.
If you are considering the HS50 and shoot lowlight scenes be careful to get a chance to test this environment, preferably before you by it.
A little earlier in the evening when there was still a good deal of pre-dusk light around I was able to get some useful shots. The aerial display by the Red Checkers air display team was great and I was able to get a few more useful shots, although when checked the camera missed focus repeatedly.
If nothing else last night’s effort was a very good reminder of the limitations of these cameras in adverse conditions. So with all the new changes and larger size, is the HS50 really going to be that much of a step forward in closing the gap to the DSLR market. I seriously doubt it. In fact last night’s disastrous outing was all the prompting I needed to convince me that if I wish for better performance and image quality a DSLR is the way to go.
As a footnote to all this I made a point of watching what others were using to record their images. By far the largest portion were using DSLR’s and I noted a lot of high end compacts, X10’s, X100’s Sony RX1’s and RX 100’s as well as Sony Nex cameras. A good number were using their Ipad’s and Smart phones. One person alongside me was using a GalaxyIII smart phone and getting arguably better images than I was.
If ever I wanted a reason to not buy the HS50 last night was it. For now I will continue with the HS20 but wont be doing any more night shoots and around Xmas time I will most likely buy the Pentax K30 and keep the HS20 as a backup camera, which can double as my wife’s bigger unit.